Recently, parking officials at Royal University Hospital had a car impounded from the RUH parkade. It had been sitting, seemingly abandoned, for a couple of weeks.

“That was an unusual occurrence,” says Grant Sommerfeld, director of Facilities and Engineering Services for Saskatoon Health Region. “It was obvious someone had left it there while away from the job. But it’s an indication of our increased vigilance over parking in our facilities.”

More frequently, parking officers have to have vehicles ticketed for parking in the wrong place. Sometimes, staff vehicles are parked in the visitor lots of hospitals when they should be parked in the staff lots. “Patients and visitors can’t access the staff lots,” reminds Sommerfeld, “so, it’s inappropriate for those few staff to take the spaces that are dedicated to patients and visitors to our facilities.”

The busy parking lot at Royal University Hospital is designated for use by patients and visitors.

The Health Region is taking steps to ensure staff are aware of the rules regarding parking. Ticketing is one way of reinforcing the message. However, the Region doesn’t benefit financially by the tickets issued. Instead, the tickets are paid to the City of Saskatoon or to the University of Saskatchewan, depending on where they are issued.

But the Region is trying to make it easier for staff to get to work so they don’t have to drive and park. “We are in discussions with the City of Saskatoon hoping to pilot their Ecopass system,” says Jocelyn Orb, the Region’s sustainability coordinator. “We’re reviewing their plan. If we decide to pursue it, it would be a more attractive option for some people to get to work.” The price of a monthly bus pass could be as low as $45.

“We are also looking at reintroducing a car pool permit to allow several people to drive to work together. There will be financial incentives for turning in an existing permit,” says Sommerfeld. The program is currently under development.

The Region operates a series of shuttles which move staff between the three hospitals in Saskatoon. “The shuttles allow people to leave their cars at home, knowing they can travel between sites for work without having to use their vehicles.”

“The most important thing to remember is that if you do have to drive to work, that you park in your designated staff area,” says Sommerfeld. “We want to put the needs of our patients ahead of our own. They need to have access to visitor parking spaces. To do that, staff and physicians must use the staff spaces appropriately.”